Sydney Payne is a top scholar who excels both in the arts and STEM fields. She’s had a distinguished career as a performer and has also dedicated many hours to service at her school and in the community.
She began acting lessons at age 3, followed by dancing and voice lessons. She performed in her first community production at 10 — following in the footsteps of her grandmother, who sang in choir. She landed her first lead role in a musical while in middle school.
Payne says that the best thing about theater is that it’s live.
“It’s so thrilling, and the fact that someone can mess up at any point is exhilarating,” she says. “And you get to pretend to be so many different people.”
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Her most challenging role was that of the Snow Queen.
“It was the first really evil character I played so it was different,” she says. “She was so sharp and fierce, I found it difficult.”
In addition to plays at Peninsula High, Payne has performed with community organizations such as Encore Theatre, Lakewood Playhouse, Auburn Avenue Theatre and Tacoma Little Theatre.
Tap dancing since she was young, Payne started teaching younger kids this past fall. She hopes to find a job teaching tap dancing as a way of supporting herself through college.
While her dancing, singing and performing schedule has kept her very busy, Payne has also been involved with several clubs at school. She also helped found a French Club at Peninsula High.
“An intelligent, self-disciplined, artistically talented young lady. Sydney epitomizes the term well-rounded,” says her AP calculus teacher, Patrick Gillis.
Payne has maintained a near-perfect GPA while taking numerous challenging classes. She says her success was due to the ability to balance every class and figuring out her daily priorities.
“I’m proud that I’ve been able to keep high grades while participating in all the theater that I do — being able to do what I love while still getting good grades,” she says.
Until recently, Payne thought she’d pursue a professional career in the theater and arts, but she decided to pursue a different passion, for math.
“I realized a lot of the skills I learned fro theater translate into engineering,” she says.
She plans to study engineering and hopes to focus on aeronautics. Her dream job is to be an operations analyst at NASA or a similar role for a company like Boeing. Her goal is to continue performing with community theater.
Category: Music, art and drama
Education: Senior, Peninsula High School
Parents: Teresa and Dale Payne
Activities/Achievements: National Honor Society treasurer; National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists Award of Excellence; 9 AP/Honors classes; French Club vice president; Fashion Club treasurer; Harbor Voice and Dance student, teacher’s assistant and substitute teacher; performer in more than a dozen school and community theater plays including as lead; Young Life; volunteer for church nursery, Winterfest, Harbor Place Retirement performances
Favorite teacher: Peter Pratz, AP statistics. “He tells lots of jokes and makes learning math fun; he keeps me engaged, therefore making me a better student.”
Best thing about high school: “We make sure every student feels welcome, and no one eats lunch without a friend.”